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Culinary day trip: A kitchen collective in the countryside

At Gerswalde’s great garden, the empty Uckermark is filling up again — with lots of flavour.

Café zum Löwen serves Japanese treats in Uckermark (Photo © Clemens Niedenthal)

Gerswalde, Uckermark, utopia. Many stories have been told about this ever emptying landscape, into which more and more city dwellers are rushing. Those who were early adopters have secured a datcha, hut, or an old cottage here between the Schorfheide region and the Uckermark. We, those who weren’t so speedy, visit Großer Garten, the eponymous great garden during the summer season. A garden once part of a castle that has long since relinquished its original purpose. Among those early birds are Michael Wickert, the owner of fish smokery Glut & Späne, and Ayumi Saito from Japan, who runs Café zum Löwen in the old conservatory.

Direction is firmly in the hands of Lola Randl. Literally. Once upon a time, she bought abandoned properties in and around Gerswalde, and then built the collective that now stages the great garden of Gerswalde. The fish smokery, the café, the permaculture gardens, and since last year a bar, called Paradies, paradise. Opening times: Saturdays, and most Sundays (except Glut & Späne) during the summer season. We recommend starting with the smoked trout, then when you’re ready, take the random collection of furniture over, 10 metres, to Café zum Löwen for some matcha cake and tea, and then, two hours later, return to Glut & Späne for a glass of Riesling. In between, stroll through the picturesque village and the hills behind it. There’s also usually an exhibition, photography or graphics, to be seen as well.

The postmodern way of life

Recently, Lola Randl turned this desire for the countryside and the simple life into a novel. It’s named after the great garden, ‘Der große Garten’, and cleverly laughs at those who moved out there to seek happiness. Maybe this is the archetypal postmodern way of life: live in a utopia and simultaneously make fun of it. Presumably it is precisely these cracks, these fractures, that make this place so special. We promise there will be a pleasantly diverse audience — even locals come for some smoked fish and the unpretentious atmosphere. And there’s always someone who can give you a lift back to Berlin.

Address: Dorfmitte 11, Gerswalde

Directions: bus 504 from Wilmersdorf (bei Angermünde) train station